Delivery drones have been the latest topic making waves in the world of technology, with UPS and Amazon delivery drones hogging up all the limelight. Swiss Post has also been working on trail delivery drones with California’s Matternet, and now the Swiss aviation authority has just sanctioned Matternet’s drones to deliver laboratory samples between two hospitals in the Swiss city of Lugano.
The project has been under trial in the southern city since mid-March, and Swiss Post claims that they have successfully completed around 70 autonomous flights in the process. Matternet’s drones are unique and custom designed to carry lighter loads of up to 2 kg (4.4 lb), within a radius of 20 km(12 mi) and at a top speed of 36 km/h (22 mph). They are even equipped with parachutes in case of hardware failure.
The sanction from Switzerland’s Federal Office for Civil Aviation was pending since the operation involved flying over populated areas posing an inherent risk to the public in case something goes wrong. But a large number of successful test flight have finally managed to change the Swiss authority’s minds, which will make drone deliveries an everyday occurrence.
The lab delivery will start with the hospital staff loading up the drone and launching it via a smartphone app. The drone will fly autonomously on a predefined route and use infrared signals used to mark the take-off and landing points where the payload will be unloaded. These samples are usually transported by road, and using drones will cut down the cost and time for the task, thus improve the overall efficiency.
The company is looking for some more tests till April 4, and another month of testing in June. And if the platform still meets the strict requirements, the deliveries will commence between the two hospitals in 2018.